I’m known for my matzo ball soup. I learned the technique over many years, peeking over the shoulders of two generations of matzo ball makers before me. Grandma Gussie’s were small and hard resembling golf balls. My mother adopted the Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix which made into light fluffy dumplings. Aunt Esther’s always came out like golf balls no matter what ingredients she used.
Lynn and I had returned from a tough road trip and were looking forward to some good R&R. Lucas was flying in from Puerto Rico after sending the two big dogs on the airplane to New Jersey, installing the hurricane shutters, and closing down the house. His arrival time was late and Lynn thought he would be tired and hungry.
I said, “I know, I’ll make him some nice matzo ball soup!”
“Great. I’m sure he’ll love that!”
Off we went to the local Columbus, Ohio supermarket to gather the simple ingredients—chicken, onions, carrots, celery, parsley, dill, and Matzo Ball Mix. I found the kosher foods aisle and made a bee-line for the Manischewitz Matzoh Ball Mix. Empty! There were other products on the shelf including gluten-free mix. No. Not doing it. I want my Manischewitz.
No matter how long I stared at the empty section, the box did not appear. What to do? My eye traveled down the shelf and I spotted an orange package that said “matzo ball mix.” As I looked closer, I saw that it was made by Lipton. Lipton! That’s for tea. I’m not buying Lipton’s matzo ball mix. Nooooo.
So, what are the options? Drag Lynn to another market that was several miles away? Get the gluten-free? I bought the Lipton’s. Who would know? (I would.)
So, I did my thing, which takes all day. I’m ridiculous I know, but I am happy with the result so I do it. I put a chicken in a pot along with celery, carrots, onion, parsley, and dill. I cook it until the chicken is falling off the bone, then I strip the meat, put the skin and bones back in the pot with the veggies, and cook it for hours until all the vitamins are absorbed into the broth. Then I strain it, cook new veggies in the rich broth, and add the matzo balls which I cook separately. It all comes together in a beautiful, healthy “Jewish Penicillin.”
When it was all done, Lynn and I each had a glorious bowl while it was hot and fresh. Lynn said, “Lucas should be landing in Dallas soon, waiting for his connection to Columbus. I’ll call him and tell him we have soup waiting.”
He said, “Chicken soup with matzo balls? I don’t want that. That’s for sick people, and I’m not sick.”
Once Lucas digs in, he is not changing his mind. He is NOT eating the soup.
The next day I was upstairs in the loft, reading a book when I heard the unmistakable pop of a champagne cork. I immediately sat straight up and craned my neck in the direction of the sound. Lynn called out, “Come on down. Misty (the next-door neighbor) is graduating from Nursing School. It’s online and they’re calling out names now. Hurry!”
Whoo-hoo! Party! It was a virtual ceremony due to COVID rules and as I sat in the circle which consisted of Lynn, Lucas, Misty (the graduate), her husband, Frank, their daughter, Olivia, me, and another family friend, Sylvia, I proudly mentioned that my son, Tyler, had started the company called Marching Order which orchestrates commencement ceremonies.
As the name announcements were in alphabetical order and we were only on the B’s, we had a ways to go before the M’s for Misty May. The conversation somehow drifted to matzo ball soup. Imagine that? It came out that Frank, Misty, and Olivia being from Texas and Tennessee had never seen, heard of, or tasted a matzo ball.
Olivia, being a curious eleven-year-old turned to me and said, “matzo ball? What’s that?”
I did my best to explain and although Lucas didn’t eat the soup, he did break out into a nice version of Hava Nagila to support my story.
I quietly packaged up a sample the next day (there was plenty left over since Lucas refused to eat it and Lynn and I had already eaten our fair share) and brought it over to the May family. I’m not sure if I have converted the Mays to matzo ball lovers, but I have it on good authority that Frank is a grill-master. I got to sample his superb steak-bites. I will happily trade him a matzo ball for a bite of steak anytime!